Defense Ministry admits September missile test failed

High profile Arrow 2 interceptor trial missed its target; experts say problem now fixed

An Arrow missile fired during a test launch in February 2013. (photo credit: CC BY-US Missile Defense Agency, Flickr)
An Arrow missile fired during a test launch in February 2013. (photo credit: CC BY-US Missile Defense Agency, Flickr)

Defense Ministry officials confirmed Tuesday that a high profile September 2014 trial run of the Arrow 2 missile interceptor failed to hit its target, ending speculation by military analysts amid foreign reports detailing the botched test.

Though it did successfully acquire and track its target, the anti-ballistic missile missed its mark, falling into the Mediterranean sea 300 kilometers from Israel’s shores.

The misfire left Defense Ministry officials stumped for weeks, but according to Israeli news site Ynet, the problem was “fixed” following extensive work.

The test was originally hailed as a success by the ministry, which touted the fact that the target missile, a Blue Sparrow, launched correctly.

Only later did reports emerge that the Arrow 2 had failed to find and destroy its target — which was designed to simulate the flight path of an incoming long-range ballistic missile.

Technicians warned after the test that it could take some time to interpret the vast volume of information received.

In addition, officials said that a December test of an Arrow 3 interceptor missile was not executed as planned because of a failure to lock onto the target.

The Defense Ministry dubbed the trial a “no test.”

The December flop followed a successful Arrow 3 test flight that was conducted January 2014 in a joint operation by the Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency.

Though still incomplete, the long-range interceptor is designed to intercept missiles at a higher altitude, in space and above the earth’s atmosphere, minimizing the threat of fallout from weapons of mass destruction and increasing the likelihood of a successful interception of incoming missiles.

The Arrow interceptors are part of a four pronged anti missile defense system designed to protect Israel from short and long range rocket attacks — be it from Gaza or Tehran.

Iron Dome protects against smaller, short-range threats up to 70 kilometers; David’s Sling, covers mid-range threats from 70-200 kilometers; Arrow 2, for long-range attacks; and Arrow 3, for incoming missiles from up to 2,500 kilometers away.

Of the operational systems, only Iron Dome has been used in combat. Defending against short-to-mid-range rockets, it intercepted roughly 90 percent of its targeted projectiles during the summer war with Gaza, according to figures released by the army.

On the offensive end, Israel has reportedly also been testing the Jericho 3, an intercontinental ballistic missile said to have a range of over 10,000 kilometers.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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